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Lichfield District Council Leader insists Friarsgate scheme will go ahead

Councillor David Smith

Councillor David Smith

The Leader of Lichfield District Council has dismissed claims the Friarsgate development could be dead after funding for part of the scheme was rejected.

And Councillor David Smith also criticised Advantage West Midlands (AWM) after they decided to pull the plug on a planned £4million investment in the scheme.

As The Lichfield Blog exclusively revealed, a review led to AWM informing the city’s MP Michael Fabricant that they would not be providing financial assistance to the project.

And that left Mr Fabricant fearing the project could collapse.

But Cllr Smith has told us that the scheme is still viable. He said:

“I’m very disappointed, especially as Advantage West Midlands came to us with the offer of funding. We’re very fed up with it all. But suggestions that Friarsgate is dead are totally untrue. We have a bit of thinking to do now, but my belief is that we can continue without the money from Advantage West Midlands. The scheme is still viable.

“We still have a developer in place and we have lost no tenants. Fifty per cent is already pre-let and we’ve had other businesses coming to us to ask when the development will be completed as they could be interested as the recession eases.”

The money had been earmarked to help move Lichfield Police Station to a new site on Eastern Avenue to allow the part of the Friarsgate development to be built on the Frog Lane site.

But Cllr Smith said that the funding could still be found and admitted that, with hindsight, the Council would have been better off turning down AWM’s offer of funding. He explained:

“Dealing with Advantage West Midlands is like juggling with sand. They kept on moving the goalposts in terms of the amount of funding. They are consultant driven and it’s very difficult because every decision needs a report and a consultant to look at it.

“In hindsight, perhaps we would have been better to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’.”

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  1. Tax Payer

    2nd July, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    “But Cllr Smith said that the funding could still be found ”

    Council tax payers get your cheque books out!!

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